An old galaxy group: Chandra X-ray observations of the nearby fossil group NGC 6482

Habib Khosroshahi, Laurence Jones, Trevor Ponman

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We present the first detailed X-ray observations, using Chandra, of NGC 6482 - the nearest known fossil group. The group is dominated by an optically luminous giant elliptical galaxy and all other known group members are at least two magnitudes fainter. The global X-ray properties (luminosity, temperature, extent) of NGC 6482 fall within the range of other groups, but the detailed properties show interesting differences. We derive the gas temperature and total mass profiles for the central 30 h(70)(-1) kpc (similar to0.1 r(200)) using ACIS spatially resolved spectroscopy. The unusually high L-x /L-opt ratio is found to result from a high central gas density. The temperature profile shows a continuous decrease outward, dropping to 0.63 of its central value at 0.1r(200). The derived total mass profile is strongly centrally peaked, suggesting an early formation epoch. These results support a picture in which fossil groups are old, giving time for the most massive galaxies to have merged (via the effects of dynamical friction) to produce a central giant elliptical galaxy. Although the cooling time within 0.1r(200) is less than a Hubble time, no decrease in central temperature is detected. The entropy of the system lies toward the low side of the distribution seen in poor groups and drops all the way into the centre of the system, reaching very low values. No isentropic core, such as those predicted in simple pre-heating models, is present. Given the lack of any central temperature drop in the system, it seems unlikely that radiative cooling can be invoked to explain this low central entropy. The lack of any signature of central cooling is especially striking in a system that appears to be old and relaxed, and to have a central cooling time less than or equal to10(8) yr. We find that the centrally peaked temperature profile is consistent with a steady-state cooling-flow solution with an accretion rate of 2 M-. yr(-1), given the large P dV work arising from the cuspy mass profile. However, solutions involving distributed or non-steady heating cannot be ruled out.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1240
Number of pages1
JournalRoyal Astronomical Society. Monthly Notices
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2004


  • galaxies : haloes
  • X-rays : galaxies : clusters
  • X-rays : galaxies
  • galaxies : elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • intergalactic medium
  • galaxies : clusters : general


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